Menopause

Menopause marks the end of a woman’s reproductive age when she stops getting her monthly periods. It generally happens from 45 to 55 years of age, but can also happen before and after this age range. It is diagnosed when a woman doesn’t get her monthly periods for 12 consecutive months. A natural biological process, a woman goes through several hormonal changes during this time and symptoms such as mood swings, hot flashes, and trouble sleeping. However, there are treatment options to cope with these.

Menopause Symptoms

Firstly, it is crucial to understand that menopause in every woman is different. Some might get it suddenly, others go through it over a prolonged period of time. Menopausal symptoms also vary from woman to woman. Here are the symptoms that women get when going through menopause:

  • Irregular periods
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Weight gain
  • Thinning of hair
  • Dry skin
  • Reduction in breast fullness
  • Reduced muscle mass
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Hot flashes
  • Night Sweats
  • Chills
  • Problem sleeping

Since menopause likely occurs from 45 to 55 years of age, it is always beneficial to keep a track of the symptoms. This not only helps in preparing for menopause but also helps with the several complications associated with it.

What Happens During Menopause?

Menopause is natural, part of the ageing process. As you age, your reproductive system slows down. The ovaries produce less estrogen, which is the female sex hormone. Due to this, periods get irregular and then stops. It is when a woman doesn’t get her monthly periods for a period of 12 months, given she is not sick or has gone through surgery, that menopause is diagnosed.

Menopause is a gradual process that occurs over a range of several years. It consists of three stages: perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause, which together occur over a period of more than a decade.

Perimenopause

It is the period right before the actual menopause. This is a period when the ovaries start producing less estrogen and can span over a decade. It generally starts in the 40s, but can even begin when a woman is in her 30s. Due to the drop in estrogen levels, the periods can get irregular and the woman can have menopausal symptoms. However, she still gets periods and can even get pregnant.

Menopause

This is when the ovaries stop releasing eggs. The woman stops getting periods, and when this happens regularly for 12 months, it is diagnosed as menopause. This is when she gets past her reproductive stage.

Postmenopause

This is the period right after menopause when the woman hasn’t had her periods for a year. As there is a significant dip in estrogen level, the woman gets prone to several health issues, such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular issues. During this time, menopausal symptoms ease for most women, however, some can continue getting them for a decade.

Ways To Reduce Menopausal Symptoms

As we saw that menopause is associated with several symptoms, which vary from woman to woman. Gladly, there are ways to manage them.

Have Foods Rich In Phytoestrogen

Phytoestrogen is a compound found in plants that can have the same effect as estrogen. A reason for menopausal symptoms is that estrogen level dips during this time. So, phytoestrogen is a good supplement for that. Soy products are considered as a good source of this compound. Other foods that are rich in this include beans,  flaxseeds, linseeds, and sesame seeds.

Avoid Trigger Foods

Hot flashes, night sweats, and chills are common during menopause. So women should avoid or limit the intake of foods that trigger these symptoms. Such foods include caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and spicy food. What might help is that you keep a track of the foods that trigger these symptoms in you. This will help you to manage the symptoms.

Have Food Rich In Calcium 

Due to hormonal changes during menopause, bones generally weaken and increases the risk of osteoporosis. So, make it a point to include calcium-rich food in your diet. Dairy products, such as milk, curd, and cheese are the richest sources of calcium. Green leafy vegetables like spinach are also high in calcium. 

Include Lots Of Fruits And Vegetables In Your Diet

Many believe that having lots of fruits and vegetables helps manage menopausal symptoms. They also make you feel full, thus helping with weight, which generally increases during this time. Also, certain fruits and vegetables are rich sources of cancer and also prevent cardiovascular issues.

Exercise

Weight gain is one of the symptoms of menopause. To manage it, apart from having a balanced diet, make exercise a part of your lifestyle. Just 30 minutes of walk or a few minutes on the Yoga mat will do the trick. Mood swings, anxiety, and depression are some other symptoms of menopause. But when you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins, which are great mood-lifters.

Other than these, have a balanced diet that includes all the food groups, nutrients, and minerals. Drink plenty of water and other fluids. Along with these, make an effort to manage your weight, as it will not only help with the menopausal symptoms but will also prevent the health risks you get prone to due to obesity.

Best Exercises To Do During Menopause

As we saw the benefits of doing workout during menopause, here are some exercises you can do:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Yoga
  • Zumba
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Strength training 

Pilates

There are numerous workout options to choose from. However, it is beneficial to pick the one that is suitable for your routine, fitness level, and your overall personality. If you like energetic routines that involve a lot of moving around, go for zumba. If you love nature, do for a walk and cycle through the woods. If you are seeking a comparatively slow routine that focuses both on the body, as well as the mind, pick Yoga

Yoga Poses For Menopause

Yoga is not just good for the body, but also for the mind and soul. Although everyone should practice Yoga when specifically done pre and during menopause, it can help with the symptoms as well as complications. Here are some Yoga poses or asanas that are effective during menopause:

Cat And Cow Pose (Marjaryasana/Bitilasana)

  • Come in a tabletop position with hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  • Drop your belly down, raise your tailbone and your neck. This is the cow pose
  • Next round your belly, tuck your tailbone, and look down towards your chest. This is the cat pose.

Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)

  • Lie down on your belly
  • Bring your hands forward, with arms touching the ground and palms facing downward
  • Gently rise up, so that your upper body is away from the ground, while your abdomen and the lower body continue to touch the floor.

Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

  • Stand tall with your feet hips-distance apart and your arms to the sides.
  • Gently fold down along the waist
  • Bring your hand forward and down to touch the floor. Your neck should hang heavy to not cause any strain

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

  • Come in a tabletop position with arms under the shoulders and knees under the hips.
  • Spread your thighs as far as the breadth of the mat.
  • Drop down with your belly in between your thighs with your forehead resting on the mat.
  • Spread your arms forward and breathe deeply through the pose.

Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)

  • Sit straight with your legs extended in front of you.
  • Next, bend your knees to bring the bottom of your feet to touch one another.
  • Hold your feet with your hands and breathe gently. 

Yoga is a great exercise with immense benefits both for the body as well as the mind.

Complications During Menopause

During menopause, the estrogen level in a woman dips. She can face a number of complications during this time. Some of them are:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Heart disease
  • Slowed metabolism leading to weight gain
  • Vulvovaginal atrophy in which vaginal walls thicken, get dry and inflamed
  • Dyspareunia or painful intercourse
  • Bowel and urinary inconsistency
  • Mood swings

As we saw the premenopause stage generally begins almost a decade before the actual menopause, it is better to take precautions to avoid these menopausal complications. Have a balanced diet, avoid foods that cause hot flashes and night sweats, exercise regularly, include calcium-rich foods in your diet, and drink plenty of water. Even after taking all the precautions, you get the above-mentioned complications, you should see a doctor.

When To See A Doctor

The woman should regularly see a doctor when she starts getting menopausal symptoms. This will help her with the symptoms, as well as preventing menopausal complications. If possible, consult a dietician too who’ll help you with the dietary intake and make the requisite recommendations. Menopause is as tricky as is the start of menstruation, hence it is crucial to do all that is necessary to make this period easier.

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